Wednesday 25 April 2018

WALRUS: the Wirral and Liverpool Regional Urban System

On a recent trip to Liverpool I needed an all-day ticket that would let me use public transport across the city. So I bought a couple of day passes for me and a friend, which meant getting a plastic card that can be topped up, kind of like the Oyster Card in London. But in Liverpool it's called the Walrus card. It's not exactly the same as the Oyster, but it is named after a sea creature, though it took us a few moments to figure out why they chose Walrus as the name. But of course we decided it must really stand for Wirral and Liverpool Regional Urban System (surely, yes?) and I therefore had to make an animated gif of commute flows in the WALRUS, so here I am. Watch it multiple times to see the main travel to work patterns, and scroll to the bottom for a slower version. I've tried to get the colours right so you can see the mix of destinations clearly. Liverpool city centre is near the L of Liverpool and I've also labelled some other locations including the airport (Liverpool John Lennon Airport, as it is officially called).

Behold: commuter flows in the WALRUS

Surely the people who came up with Walrus really meant it as a play on the Beatles song plus a play on this urban and regional acronym. After all, there is a history of this kind of thing in the wider area, with SELNEC as 'South East Lancashire, North East Cheshire' probably the most famous example, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. But no, if I Google it, I get absolutely nothing, as you can see below or try for yourself. Surely somebody already uses this, it seems too obvious. If not, then I will claim partial credit alongside my good friend for creating this backronym.

"WALRUS, you say?"

From the JR James Archive

There are other examples of urban and regional acronyms in the UK and across the world (feel free to suggest more) but I can't think of one that incorporates a nice local reference like this. Although, if they chose Oyster in London because it means the world is your Oyster then the Walrus thing doesn't work so well here ("The World is Your Walrus"!?). Anyway, it did make travel on public transport much more efficient and it also meant I got to revive my series of animated gifs, for an area I know pretty well.

My Walrus card

The other side of my Walrus card

That's really all there is to it for now. Hope to catch you next time I'm in the WALRUS, which really is a regional urban system. If you get the chance, I'd like to hear about other urban and regional acronyms you may have heard of. I'll end this post with another version of the gif at the top of the pages, this time slowed down a bit more.

The WALRUS in slow motion